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110 Foot Steel Tall Ship


65' MERMAID - An Authentic 1700's Brigantine in Aluminum
First Proposed Exterior Profile - Click for Larger Image

Proposed Exterior Profile | Second Exterior Profile | Final Exterior Profile
Exterior Deck Plan | Interior Layout Plan | Interior Profile | Selected Sections | Breezeway Deck Detail | Decking Layout
Lighting Plan | Bulwark Lighting Detail | Sample Lighting Section | Valence and Overhead Beam Lighting

Copyright 2010 Michael Kasten

Built in steel in the USA to USCG structural and stability standards for use as a sail training vessel, the 34m (110 foot) ROYAL ALBATROSS started life under the name, "Windy II." After serving as a sail training vessel for a number of years in and around Chicago, the Windy II was sold to a charter group in SE Asia.

The new owners recognized that, as originally designed and built, the vessel's designers did not show much if any regard for traditional aesthetics, nor had there been any attention paid to creating an 'authentic' nor even a remotely pleasing presentation inside or out. The original interior was barren and uninteresting in the extreme. 'Industrial' is possibly the best description. Formica, linoleum, bright colors... You get the picture. Although we have not provided any images here of the original 'Windy II' suffice it to say that she was very much in need of a total make-over.

We thoroughly concurred: the vessel as originally designed would benefit immensely from a total re-fit both inside and out. Thus, we were pleased when we were asked to propose a re-styled exterior that would be more 'period correct' and much more graceful. The new owners' requests also included creating a completely re-purposed interior layout; one that would "feel" authentic inside and out. The objective was to re-style the vessel in order to give the impression of being on a wooden vessel, both before and after boarding.

Our additional task was to create an interior that would accommodate day-charters, dinner charters, corporate retreats, and luxury excursions of a few weeks' duration for small groups. This combination of functions was indeed a challenge, however I think the resulting layout is really quite good. Those who experience a cruise on the newly re-born ROYAL ALBATROSS will be very well cared for...!

The following is a brief chronicle of the re-styling and interior re-design process to illustrate how our various styling and layout proposals were revised in order to accommodate the owner's specific wishes.


As always when starting a project of this type, my first task was to find a few potentially interesting 'period correct' example vessels. My first source for this kind of historic information is to review the drawings of older vessels. The best among them were published in the 1760's by Fredrik Henrik auf Chapman, and in the mid-1900's by Howard Chapelle.

The aesthetic challenge was thus to come up with some sort of 'disguise' for the ugly duckling that was hidden underneath... Since part of the requirement was to retain the raised saloon aft below the 'poop deck' really the only period during which this kind of 'raised aft deck' would have been common is among the privateers and trading vessels of the 1700's.

The vessels of the 1700's made use of a 'split-level' transom, so that is how we originally proposed to configure the stern. In order to balance the 'raised poop deck' astern with a matching bow, we proposed a raised fore-deck with flared bulwarks with upward curving stem and trail boards forward. This combination allowed a generous open 'breezeway deck' amidships - always a good feature.

Though technically a barquentine because of the square sails forward, the rig of the Windy II was basically that of a gaff schooner. But in the 1700's most vessels were fully square rigged with an occasional "fore and aft" sail on some vessel types, usually arranged as a 'spanker' aft. It was not until the 1800's that multiple masted schooners with fore and aft sails became dominant. And by then most hull types had evolved toward much lower profiles. In other words, they no longer had such high forward and aft decks.

So... we were pretty much stuck with 1700's era hull styling combined with an 1800's era rig. As such, the exterior 'presentation' was really just intended to function as a 'reasonably convincing' mask over the vessel's prior ungraceful profile.

Using the drawings of the original Windy II as a take-off point, our first task was to establish a unified basis for the styling of the exterior. We could not change the hull shape, nor the height of the decks. Our only real option was to flare the bulwarks into a more graceful sheer line and blend them with a 'sweep-down' amidships. What we proposed can be observed in the First Proposed Exterior Profile image as shown above.

Then the owner requested that the on-deck arrangement be changed in order to lengthen the aft saloon and the forward galley, resulting in a much shorter 'midship deck. This consequently shortened the 'swept-down' region of the bulwarks amidships, making the ends much heavier in appearance. The results of this change can be seen in the Second Proposed Exterior Profile below.

Although I view this change as being very unfortunate aesthetically, it did substantially enhance the functionality of the interior spaces.

The Tall Ship, Royal Albatross - Preliminary Design Drawing
Second Exterior Profile - Click for Larger Image


With this change, the exterior upper deck was able to include a generous open wrap-around seating area right aft with a large skylight / table on center. Forward of that a full service covered bar was introduced, having protected bar-stool seating all around. Interestingly, just forward of the bar is the pilot house navigation station, directly attached - a potentially conflicting usage...!

An exterior helm station was located just forward of the pilot house nav station. Open to the weather and having good views all around, the helm station will be perfect for viewing the sails, and a Bimini cover can be rigged for sun / rain protection as needed. This is an ideal combination for sailing, and visibility for navigation will be excellent.

Forward of the helm area is a "bridge deck" that spans between the aft deck and the forward deck. On the bridge deck and on the forward deck are a series of seating pods. These too can be covered with a Bimini cover for sun or rain protection. This arrangement can be seen on the Exterior Deck Plan and the Interior Profile drawings. Further clarification of these spaces can be seen on the Sample Section View drawings.


To port and starb'd of the helm station is a stair / ladder leading down to the open 'breezeway deck' amidships (immediately below the bridge deck).

Once on the exterior main deck amidships, one can enter the covered 'breezeway' seating area, then proceed aft into the saloon. Once inside the aft saloon, guests will have the purser and reception counter directly to their right (to port, facing aft), with his-and-hers head compartments to their right (to starb'd, facing aft).

A bit farther aft to port is yet another fully equipped liquor bar which also functions as a food and beverage service area for the saloon. On center there is a grand staircase leading forward, down to the guest suites below.

Proceeding farther aft, there is a raised wrap-around seating area against the transom, which should provide outstanding views aft, and to either side. This arrangement can be seen on the Interior Layout Plan and the Interior Profile. Further clarification of these spaces can be seen on the Sample Section Views.

The aft saloon contains seating for some 58 people. In other words, plenty... This is especially so when combined with another 12 guests on the covered amidships deck, plus something on the order of around 80 people on the upper exterior decks. All told there is seating for 150 pax in day-charter mode..!


For overnight charters of longer duration, below decks there are two laundry rooms plus accommodation space for eight guests within four luxury suites, each with their own en-suite head and shower compartment. Right forward is an 'apartment sized' owner's suite. If that suite were also chartered, the result would be overnight guest accommodation for 10 passengers.

I found the lower deck accommodation spaces to be excellent in every way. A view of this layout can be seen on the Interior Layout Plan and the Interior Profile.

The aesthetic presentation of the guest suites, owner's suite, and the grand saloon is intended to be "world class" and aimed toward providing the complete impression of being aboard an authentic wooden sailing ship. In order to assure that the presentation would be up to that high standard, we specified the following...





The interior joinery was considered to be quite important in order to convey the sense of being on a wooden boat. We developed several drawings in order to detail the interior joinery, as well as to illustrate the Decking Layout on the interior and exterior decks.

The lighting placement was rightfully regarded as being key to achieving the "look" that we wanted on the interior. In order to best illustrate the lighting placement, a complete Lighting Plan was developed, and was augmented by several detail drawings for specific locations, including the Bulwark Lighting, the lighting and general layout of the Breezeway Deck, a Section View of the general lighting, and a detail of the Valence and Overhead Beam Lighting Scheme.

In order to best communicate the flavor of the interior decor including the 'locally sourced' Asian art work we had in mind, we prepared several excellent perspectives to illustrate a few of the interior spaces. To view them, please see the following links:


I think the interior spaces have remained faithful to the "look-and-feel" that we intended. This has been quite an accomplishment for what started out as a very un-aesthetic steel cage.

With regard to the exterior styling... that is where the real challenge was from day one, and where it has remained. It was the proverbial task to create 'a silk purse from a sow's ear' which is never all that easy..! In my view, our First Proposed Exterior Profile shown at the top of the page offered the best overall styling, and would have been more or less 'period correct' for a hull type having such a high aft deck. Even so, it would still not have matched the 'era' of the schooner rig.

To accommodate widely varying owner requests we went through an impressive number of design revisions in order to finally settle upon what would best achieve the required charter functionality. In so doing, quite a few exterior styling changes were made in order to accommodate the evolving layout.

In the process, the first casualty was the originally proposed overhanging 'two-tier' transom. This was dropped in favor of simplicity, and the choice was made to just 'dress up' the vessel's existing transom without making structural changes. The next casualty was the originally proposed upward curving stem and trailboard. Both of those features were dropped in favor of an 1800's clipper style stem and trailboard. The transom shape remained as it had always been but the transom was given a row of windows and a slightly higher profile as seen from astern. The final casualty was to flatten the sheer line, rather than to allow the intended 'sweep' of the sheer in profile - a request by the skipper.

Another significant aesthetic compromise was to introduce large side windows in the aft Saloon. Though I really don't care for the look of these big windows, they do achieve the desired effect... i.e. a panoramic view from within the saloon.

And then... even the rig was changed..! No longer able to be called either a barquentine nor a gaff schooner, she is now a staysail schooner - a rig that did not exist until the 1900's. We now have a true collision of centuries... but a more easily handled and better supported rig.

The results of the owner's various layout and styling requests can be seen in the Final Exterior Profile below.

The Tall Ship ROYAL ALBATROSS - Final Exterior Styling
Final Exterior Profile - Click for Larger Image

Exterior Deck Plan | Interior Layout Plan | Interior Profile | Selected Sections | Breezeway Deck Detail | Decking Layout
Lighting Plan | Bulwark Lighting Detail | Sample Lighting Section | Valence and Overhead Beam Lighting

Even though the final layout, deck plan, exterior styling, and even the sail rig turned out quite differently than I had originally proposed (and thought best), I view the outcome as a success story. Here is why...

The result is that the funky old 'Windy II' has been completely re-born. Re-named as the ROYAL ALBATROSS she will ply the waters in and around SE Asia.

For more information about our work on this remodel project or our other yacht designs, please inquire.